Study Links Preventive Care to Decline in Kids’ Hospitalization Rates
Nine California counties that enroll children in health care coverage through Children's Health Initiatives saved $7 million annually in taxpayer costs by avoiding more than 1,000 preventable hospitalizations, according to a study released Monday by the Center for Community Health Studies at USC's Keck School of Medicine, the San Luis Obispo Tribune reports.
Twenty-five counties operate Children's Health Initiatives, which help enroll eligible children in Healthy Families and Medi-Cal. Healthy Families is California's version of the State Children's Health Insurance Program, and Medi-Cal is California's Medicaid program.
Children's Health Initiatives also provide other coverage for children who are not eligible for Medi-Cal or Healthy Families.
The study found that preventable hospitalizations for low-income children declined by 25% five years after the implementation of Children's Health Initiatives. Researchers attributed the decline to improved access to preventive care, noting that hospitalizations did not decline by a similar rate for higher-income children who likely have private insurance.
The study found that pneumonia, asthma and dehydration were the most common causes of preventable hospitalizations among children from 2000 to 2005.
Using the data from nine counties, researchers estimated that state and federal governments could save up to $30 million annually be providing children greater access to preventive care and avoiding hospitalizations.
The study was funded by the California Endowment and First 5 Association of California.
The study's findings could provide a boost to statewide efforts to overhaul California's health care system and expand health insurance to more children, although the $14 billion budget deficit could hamper those efforts, according to the Tribune (Arnquist, San Luis Obispo Tribune, 1/17).
The report is available on the Center for Community Health Studies' Web site (.pdf).